Evan: He’s an actor, screen writer, and director best known for creating the Rocky and Rambo series.
He was evicted from his apartment and was homeless for three weeks before getting into the film industry.
He became the third man in history to receive nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor for the same film.
He’s Sylvester Stallone, and here’s his top 10 rules for success.
Sylvester Stallone Rules
- No means yes
- Listen to your gut
- Don’t give up, keep talking
- Get it done
- #Believe in yourself
- Find your process
- Do one thing right
- You only learn through failure
- Keep moving forward
Sylvester Stallone’s Top 10 Rules For Success
Rule #1. No Means Yes
Interviewer: What in this whole world turns you on?
Challenge, I really, I just love, I love it. I love being told no, it just means yes, you know.
Interviewer: To you.
What turns you off?
Lack of enthusiasm, that really turns me off.
Rule #2. Listen To Your Gut
The point is I’m pursing something and nobody looks too happy about it.
But we’re just looking out for your interests.
I appreciate that, but maybe you’re looking out for your interests just a little bit more. I mean you shouldn’t be asking people to come down here and pay the freight on something they paid, and still aren’t good enough. I mean you think that’s right? I mean maybe you’re doing your job, but why you got to stop me from doing mine? Cause if you’re willing to go through all the battling you got to go through to get to where you want to get, who’s got the right to stop you?
I mean maybe some of you guys got something you never finished, something you really want to do, something you never said to somebody, something! And you’re told no, even after you paid your dues. Who’s got the right to tell you that? Who, nobody. It’s your right to listen to your gut, it ain’t nobody’s right to say no after you earned the right to be where you want to be and do what you want to do. You know the older I get, the more things I got to leave behind, that’s life. The only thing I’m asking you guys to leave on the table is what’s right.
Rule #3. Improvise
We were running behind schedule, and I had to shoot a montage, oh God. This montage would have taken like five days. So what I did is I came in there, brought everyone into one big room, all the dancers, and had three cameras. I took one camera and just stayed with John Travolta, and I worked with him. And the rest I said to everyone just dance, and do whatever you want, cart wheels. I said catch it all, whatever.
And then I sent a camera down when they’re making the stage and just regular light, and just shoot what you can. Just no sound or nothing, and we put it all together, and saved four days of filming. Which none of that, absolutely zero, was choreographed. Isn’t it funny? I said okay John just do this, cut. Do this, cut. I swear to God. And then the other dancers were just over in the corner, one was just scratching, doing a somersault, stretching, and you put it all together.
It’s the magic of a myth.
Yeah, so there are no rules, it’s crazy.
Rule #4. Don’t Give Up, Keep Talking
I first met Bob Chartoff and Irwin Winkler, and I believe I was there on a casting call. So we’re talking a little bit, and I said I really wasn’t right for the acting part. And on the way out, I said I don’t know if it matters, but I do a little bit of writing. And he goes, really? And I says yeah, I’m writing this story, I have this thing about wrestlers and I might do something about boxing. He goes, well bring it around. And I thought if I hadn’t stopped on the way out, you know that’s why I tell all actors or writers, don’t give up, keep talking, eventually you might hit a nerve somewhere and they go come on back. And if they didn’t say come on back or bring it later and let’s see what you developed, I wouldn’t be sitting here.
Rule #5. Get It Done
What I’ll try to do is I write long handed, so on legal pad I’ll go, goes here, sees his mother, goes to the store, so I’ll have like ten things, of beats where he’s going. Gets on a horse, goes swimming, boom, boom, boom. And I do that, and I know in my heart, 80 percent of it will be no good, but you’re getting through the screenplay. You’re getting it done because the rewrite is always more fun and much more enjoyable.
I don’t believe people should look for perfection, or even 50 percent perfection in the first draft. It’s always going to be kind of this like a child scribbling, but you did it. And the main thing for me is to once you have that accomplished, and you can do it in two weeks, three weeks, again, maybe 10 percent will be good, but you now have this sense of accomplishment. You did it, and the rewriting process starts, and that’s when the fun begins.
Rule #6. #Believe In Yourself
Originally when I brought the script to them, they were fairly enthusiastic about it. The one thing they were not enthusiastic about was me playing the part, and I really can’t blame them at the time. Ryan O’Neal was a candidate, Burt Reynolds, Robert Redford, Jimmy Kahn, and they all were at the top of their game. And so I could see it, but there was something inside of me that you know this opportunity is never going to come around.
And I really wasn’t used to money, and I had no idea what I would be missing. But the temptation started to come forward. First it was 25 grand then $100,000, and I go I’ve never heard of 100,000. Because I had like &160 in the bank, and like I said I had to sell my dog, and things were not looking very, very good. My $40 car I had just blown up, so I was taking a bus to work. And still it didn’t matter, I wanted to stick with it.
Then it went up to 150,000, 175,000, then it went up to 250,000. Now my head was starting to spin. And it went up to 330,000, and probably I heard it went to 360,000, and I thought alright you know you’ve really managed poverty very well, you’ve got this down to a science, you really don’t need much to live on. I had like sort of figured it out. So I was not in any way used to the good life.
So you know what, I know in the back of my mind if I sell this script and it does very, very well, I’m going to jump off a building if I’m not in it. There’s no doubt about it, I’m going to leap in front of a train, I’m going to be very, very upset. So this is one of those things where you just roll the dice, and you fly by the adverbial seat of your pants, and say I got to try it, just do it, I may be totally wrong, and I’m going to be taking a lot of people down with me, but I just believe in it.
Rule #7. Find Your Process
Writing I almost oppose it like exercise. I get up maybe at 4:30 in the morning, it takes an hour to get going, and then I’ll start to write about maybe three hours. And then it becomes repetitive. The next day I get up, and even if I don’t feel inspired, I’ll sit for those three hours until I get the brain says okay, you must start to produce something. So try to write quickly, and I follow a pattern just the way you would if you were in the Army or whatever. And then that gets me through it quickly. Some writers will take a year, two years, everyone has a different process. But that’s what I do.
Interviewer: You write better in the morning.
Much better. I use to write at night all the time, but I found that everything, everyone died, it was dark, kind of creepy. It was really horrible, very depressing. Then I realized Edgar Allen Poe used to write at night, and I figured out why.
Rule #8. Do One Thing Right
If you’ve never had anything, like today, I would go okay, I’m selling. I can’t give up the house. But if you don’t have the house, and you don’t have anything, and you’re just sitting there and you go okay, I wrote this for myself and I don’t even know if it’s that good, but obviously someone likes it, I’ll regret it. I know I’ll regret it. I bet I say it once a week, I walk around and I say, thank God, all the time.
Really? All the time, you did one thing right. In life you could do 1,000 things wrong, you just do one thing right, you go whew, it makes up for the other 999 mistakes sometimes.
Rule #9. You Only Learn Through Failure
Give up something to get something, and I thought I didn’t have any money, so I had no phone. I painted my windows black, so I didn’t know if the sun was up, the sun was down, all I knew was I had to write. And I wrote, and I wrote, it was very bad. It wasn’t good at all, but every day it was getting better and better, like a machine, like a muscle, until finally the idea of Rocky came. So the idea is you must fail 100 times to succeed once, that’s part of it.
No one succeeds the first time. It’s learning how to not get disappointed with failure to understand failure. You only learn when you fail, you don’t learn when you succeed. But when you fail, that’s when you learn. How I learned, lucky I was a failure in New York, and that is the reason I started writing, which made me successful. I had to teach myself early on, expect to fail, expect it, covet it, welcome it, it’s going to happen. But don’t, it’s not a permanent state.
Rule #10. Keep Moving Forward
But somewhere along the line you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good. And when things got hard you started looking for something to blame, like a big shadow. Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.
You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!
Thank you so much for watching. I made this video because Daniel “Danny” Frankel asked me to, so if there is a famous entrepreneur that you want me to profile next, leave it in the comments below, and I’ll see what I can do. I’d also love to know which of Sly Stallone’s 10 rules mean the most to you, is the most applicable to your life and your business. Leave it in the comments below, I’m going to join in the discussion. Thank you so much for watching, continue to believe, and I’ll see you soon.